Today is the 44th birthday of Logan Plant, founder and brewmaster of Beavertown Brewery, which he started in 2011. I met Logan first at the Firestone-Walker Invitational Beer Festival a few years ago and have run into a couple of times since both there and at the RateBeer Best Festival. He’s a very friendly and talented person and his beer is great, and it’s always been a pleasure to hang out with him. Please join me in wishing Logan a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Samuel Whitbread II (January 18, 1764-July 6, 1815). Despite being the son of Whitbread Brewery founder Samuel Whitbread, he is most remember for being a politician. According to Wikipedia:
Whitbread was born in Cardington, Bedfordshire, the son of the brewer Samuel Whitbread. He was educated at Eton College, Christ Church, Oxford and St John’s College, Cambridge, after which he embarked on a European ‘Grand Tour’, visiting Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Prussia, France and Italy. He returned to England in May 1786 and joined his father’s successful brewing business.
“Samuel Whitbread Esqr. M.P.” by Samuel William Reynolds after John Opie, 1804. This is the painting’s description. “A fine full length, seated portrait of the brewer, philanthropist and Whig politician Samuel Whitbread (1758-1815). He sits at his desk, wearing a dark suit and hessian boots, before an open window, his hand resting on a piece of paper. In the background is a draped curtain and on the floor is a pile of books.”
For over two decades he was a Member of Parliament:
Whitbread was elected Member of Parliament for Bedford in 1790, a post he held for twenty-three years. Whitbread was a reformer — a champion of religious and civil rights, for the abolition of slavery, and a proponent of a national education system. He was a close friend and colleague of Charles James Fox. After Fox’s death, Whitbread took over the leadership of the Whigs, and in 1805 led the campaign to have Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, removed from office.
Whitbread admired Napoleon and his reforms in France and Europe. He hoped that many of Napoleon’s reforms would be implemented in Britain. Throughout the Peninsular War he played down French defeats convinced that sooner or later Napoleon would triumph, and he did all he could to bring about a withdrawal of Britain from the continent. When Napoleon abdicated in 1814 he was devastated. Whitbread began to suffer from depression, and on the morning of 6 July 1815, he committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor.
This portrait of Whitbread was done in 1806.
Bedfordshire Genealogy and History has a fuller biography of Samuel Whitbread 2nd:
Samuel Whitbread, the son of the brewer Samuel Whitbread, and Harriet Hayton, was born in Cardington, Bedfordshire in 1758. His mother died when he was a child and his father took great care over his only son. When Samuel was sent to Eton he was accompanied by his own private tutor. Samuel continued his education at Christ Church, Oxford and St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he met his lifelong friend, Charles Grey.
After university Samuel Whitbread sent his son on a tour of Europe, under the guidance of the historian, William Coxe. This included visits to Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Prussia, France and Italy. When Samuel returned in May 1786, he joined his father running the extremely successful family brewing business.
In 1789 Samuel Whitbread married Elizabeth Grey, the sister of Charles Grey. The two men were deeply interested in politics. Grey was already MP for Northumberland and in 1790 Whitbread was elected MP for Bedford. In the House of Commons, Whitbread and Grey became followers of Charles Fox, the leader of the Radical Whigs.
Whitbread soon emerged in Parliament as a powerful critic of the Tory Prime Minister, William Pitt. A passionate supporter of reform, Whitbread argued for an extension of religious and civil rights, an end to the slave-trade, and the establishment of a national education system.
In April 1792, Whitbread joined with a group of pro-reform Whigs to form the Friends of the People. Three peers (Lord Porchester, Lord Lauderdale and Lord Buchan) and twenty-eight Whig MPs joined the group. Other leading members included Charles Grey, Richard Sheridan, Major John Cartwright, Lord John Russell,George Tierney, and Thomas Erskine. The main objective of the the society was to obtain “a more equal representation of the people in Parliament” and “to secure to the people a more frequent exercise of their right of electing their representatives”. Charles Fox was opposed to the formation of this group as he feared it would lead to a split the Whig Party.
On 30th April 1792, Charles Grey introduced a petition in favour of constitutional reform. He argued that the reform of the parliamentary system would remove public complaints and “restore the tranquillity of the nation”. He also stressed that the Friends of the People would not become involved in any activities that would “promote public disturbances”. Although Charles Fox had refused to join the Friends of the People, in the debate that followed, he supported Grey’s proposals. When the vote was taken, Grey’s proposals were defeated by 256 to 91 votes.
In 1793 Samuel Whitbread toured the country making speeches on the need for parliamentary reform. He encouraged people to sign petitions at his meetings and when he returned to London they were presented to Parliament. Whitbread also campaigned on behalf of agricultural labourers. In the economic depression of 1795, Whitbread advocated the payment of higher wages. When Whitbread introduced his minimum wage bill to the House of Commons in December 1795 it was opposed by William Pitt and his Tory government and was easily defeated.
Whitbread was a strong supporter of a negotiated peace with France and supported Fox’s calls to send a government minister to Paris. Whitbread argued for Catholic Emancipation and opposed the act for the suppression of rebellion in Ireland. His friend, Samuel Romilly, said that Whitbread was “the promoter of every liberal scheme for improving the condition of mankind, the zealous advocate of the oppressed, and the undaunted opposer of every species of corruption and ill-administration.”
In 1807 Samuel Whitbread proposed a new Poor Law. His scheme not only involved an increase in the financial help given to the poor, but the establishment of a free educational system. Whitbread proposed that every child between the ages of seven and fourteen who was unable to pay, should receive two years’ free education. The measure was seen as too radical and was easily defeated in the House of Commons.
Whitbread refused to be disillusioned by his constant defeats and during the next few years he made more speeches in the House of Commons than any other member. Sometimes his attacks on George III and his ministers were considered to be too harsh, even by his closest political friends.
Unable to persuade Parliament to accept his ideas, Whitbread used his considerable fortune (his father, Samuel Whitbread had died in 1796) to support good causes. Whitbread gave generous financial help to establish schools for the poor. An advocate of the monitorial system developed by Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster, he helped fund the Royal Lancasterian Society that had the objective of establishing schools that were not controlled by the Church of England.
When the Whigs gained power in 1806, Whitbread expected the Prime Minister, Lord Grenville, to offer him a place in his government. He was deeply disappointed when this did not happen. Some claimed it was because Whitbread was too radical. Others suggested it was due to snobbery and the aristocrats in the party disapproved of a tradesman entering the cabinet.
After this rejection, Whitbread consoled himself with his involvement in the Drury Lane Theatre. In 1809 the theatre was destroyed by fire. Already over £500,000 in debt, the theatre was in danger of going out of business. Whitbread became chairman of the committee set up to rebuild the theatre. With the help of his political friends, Whitbread managed to raise the necessary funds and the Drury Lane Theatre was reopened on 10th October, 1812.
In 1815 Whitbread began to suffer from depression. Over the years he had been upset by the way he was portrayed by the political cartoonists such as, James Gillray and George Cruikshank. He also began to worry about the brewery business and the way he was treated in the House of Commons. After one debate in June he told his wife: “They are hissing me. I am become an object of universal abhorrence.” On the morning of 6th June 1815, Samuel Whitbread committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor.
This is a political cartoon featuring Samuel Whitbread entitled “The Brewer and the Thistle.” It was drawn by James Sayers, and published by Hannah Humphrey, June 26, 1805. The people in the cartoon include Charles James Fox (1749-1806), James Maitland Lauderdale (1759-1839), William Wilberforce (1759-1833), Sir Home Riggs Popham (1762-1820), Samuel Whitbread (1758-1815) and Henry Dundas Melville (1742-1811). While I’m sure you need to be a historian specializing in this period of British history, the Royal Collection Trust gives this description. “Whitbeard in costume of beer casks, attacks thistle with Melville’s head. (r) alehouse; Fox and Launderdale (in tartan) laugh. Wilberforce leans out of window dressed as Puritan. (l) blunderbuss fired at sign of St. Vicent.”
Finally, here’s the Whitbread Brewery on Chiswell Street in London as it appeared around 1900.
Today is the 65th birthday of Mark Dorber, publican extraordinaire. When I first met Mark he was the publican at the White Horse in Parsons Green and we’ve judged together at both GABF and the World Beer Cup several times. More recently, he’s opened a new place a bit further northeast of London in Walberswick, on the Suffolk coast. His new pub is The Anchor. Mark is a terrific champion of cask beer and especially American beer in the UK. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of George Pargiter Fuller (January 8, 1833-April 2, 1927). He was the “the eldest surviving son of John Bird Fuller, a partner in Fuller Smith & Turner, brewers.” “Fuller inherited a share in the family brewery (in Chiswick, London) on his father’s death in 1872, and was also chairman of Avon Rubber in Melksham.
He also served as High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1878. He lived at Neston Park, Corsham, Wiltshire.” He spent most of his time, however, as a politician. He “was a member of the Wiltshire County Council, chairman of the Chippenham Rural District Council and of the Corsham Parish Council and School Board and a Justice of the Peace for Wiltshire,” and “a Liberal Party politician in the United Kingdom who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1895.” Despite his lineage and ownership stake in his family’s brewery, he doesn’t appear to have been very involved in its management at all.
Today is the birthday of Denis Holliday (January 4, 1917-June 2, 2016). He was born in Great Yarmouth, England, and worked as an apprentice at Greene King beginning in 1938. He then worked at Tollemache brewery in Ipswich and Bass’s Wenlock Brewery in London before being hired by Dorchester’s Eldridge Pope as head brewer in 1954. He completely cleaned up the brewery and turned the old brewery into a modern one. He also created their Royal Oak and Thomas Hardy’s Ale.
In 1972, he won “a record seven International Brewing Awards, the “Oscars” of the beer industry, at the London Brewers Exhibition,”and was listed “in the Guinness Book of Records after brewing the strongest beer in the world.” For a time, he was president of the International Brewers’ Guild and was awarded a Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for Industry in 1977. He retired from brewing in 1982, but continued to work as a consultant in the industry. In 2008, he received an MBE (Order of the British Empire) for his service to the community.
Today is the birthday of John Brown (December 31, 1795–October 23, 1890). He “was a brewer in Tring, Hertfordshire. Born in Okeford Fitzpaine in Dorset, he moved to Tring in 1826. His brewery was in Tring High Street, and he built several public houses in the area, at a period when the coming of the railway was advantageous to the business.”
Almost entirely what I’ve been able to find out about John Brown’s Tring brewery is from his short Wikipedia page:
In the 1830s, a railway line, of the London and Birmingham Railway, was built, which passed near the town. Since it used shallow gradients, a cutting was created through chalk hills near Tring between 1834 and 1837. The cutting was the largest created at that time, being 4 km long and 12 m deep. It was mostly dug manually. The navvies employed in its construction provided business for breweries in Tring, including that of John Brown.
During the 1830s he built several pubs in the area, which had a distinctive architectural style. In Tring, these included the Britannia (the present Norfolk House) and the King’s Arms. The King’s Arms is away from the town centre: John Brown expected that the town would expand with the coming of the railway, and that the pub would be in a busy area; however, the expansion did not happen as he expected. Another of his buildings is near to the railway station about two miles from Tring; it was built in 1838 under arrangement with the London and Birmingham Railway Company. Its name was originally the Harcourt Arms, after the Harcourt family who owned Pendley Manor; it was renamed, some time between 1845 and 1851, the Royal Hotel.
In 1851 John was a farmer and a wine and spirit merchant, as well as a brewer; in 1881 he was employing nine men at the brewery.
In later years the brewery was run by John’s son John Herbert Brown; he and his brother Frederick William took over when John died in 1890. However, John Herbert died in 1896, and in 1898 Frederick William sold the brewery, with nine freehold public houses, to Locke and Smith of Berkhamsted.
The King’s Arms, which Brown built is still a pub today, though it’s changed hands a number of time since John Brown’s day. Here’s some history of it from the pub’s website:
The King’s Arms was built in the early nineteenth century around 1830, for John Brown’s Tring Brewery (still highly visible but now a High St. stationer’s). When built, the the pub’s land included the top end of Charles St. (which was a dead end) and the pub’s orchard was where the two bungalows ‘Cosy Corner’ and ‘Corners’ now stand.
Brown’s distinctive architectural style was used on a number of other pubs in and around Tring as he expanded his estate. The ‘KA’ as it is known by regulars, has always been a pub, and internally in layout has not changed greatly in the last 180 odd years. Brown built grandly beside what was then the main London to Aylesbury road, catering initially for the army of navvies employed in building the railway, and in the expectation that expansion of the town would follow its completion.
As things turned out, the expected boom failed to materialise and the town centre grew slowly elsewhere, taking the main road along what became Western Road and the High Street. This left the pub rather isolated; later it became surrounded with the houses, shops and workshops that is now known as the ‘Tring Triangle’. At some time during the second half of the 19th century the range of stables and warehousing that bound the garden were built (presumably by the Brewery for general commercial use).
Tring High Street in the 19th century.
Market Day in the lower High Street in 1897.
In 1992, a new Tring Brewery opened, though it has nothing to do with the original brewery or the family of John Brown.
Today is the birthday of Henry Boddington (December 18, 1813-August 19, 1886). After joining the Strangeways Brewery in Manchester as a salesman in 1832, Boddington became a partner sixteen years later, in 1848, but in 1853, he bought out the partners and became the sole owner, renaming it Boddington’s.
Although Boddington’s ale is associated with Manchester, his family were originally from Middle Barton in Oxfordshire.
He was born in Thame in 1813, where his father was the miller. Times were hard in agriculture and the corn-milling business suffered.
The family decided to escape the poverty of rural Oxfordshire for the booming Manchester of the industrial revolution.
Henry began as a salesman for a brewery, and through a wise marriage he gained a foothold in the Strangeways brewery, which he went on to control. Under his leadership it became one of the biggest brewers in the north of England.
This biography of Boddington is from the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,” written by R. G. Wilson:
Henry Boddington was born in a mill cottage at Thame where his father, John Boddington, was the miller. He also acted as parish overseer, surveyor of the roads and master of the workhouse where the family lived from 1826. Young Henry was educated at a dame school in the town and assisted his father in various ways, notably with compiling the 1831 census returns for Thame. Henry’s older brother John went north to find his fortune, becoming a clerk at the Strangeways brewery of Hole, Potter and Harrison in Manchester in 1831 and the rest of the family followed in the hope of better prospects.
Henry became a commercial traveller for the brewery, progressed in the business and in 1847 became a partner on the departure of Hole. By 1852 he had become sole proprietor, his success assisted by his marriage to Martha Slater, daughter of a Salford dyer and banker. In the next two decades Strangeways’ output made it a major northern brewery with an empire later extending as far as Birmingham and Burton-on-Trent.
His marriage to Martha produced eight children and his second wife, Eliza Nanson, bore him four more. He retired to Silverdale near Carnforth where he died in 1886. His sons carried on the business, all prosperous and influential public figures in Manchester life. Henry Slater Boddington (1849–1925), for instance, was a director of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Boddingtons remained a family company until 1989 when it was sold to Whitbread and is now part of the Anheuser-Busch Inbev conglomerate, the leading global brewer.
This is Wikipedia’s history of Boddington’s with the part concerning him:
Strangeways Brewery was founded in 1778 by two grain merchants, Thomas Caister and Thomas Fry, just north of what is now Manchester city centre. Their principal customers were the cotton workers of Manchester, then a burgeoning mill town. Henry Boddington, born in 1813 in Thame, Oxfordshire, joined the brewery in 1832 as a travelling salesman when the brewery was in the possession of Hole, Potter and Harrison. Like most Manchester breweries at the time, it was a modestly sized operation. Boddington had become a partner by 1848, alongside John and James Harrison, and by this time the company went under the name John Harrison & Co. In January 1853, Boddington borrowed money to become its sole owner. Between Boddington’s takeover until 1877, the brewery’s output increased tenfold from 10,000 to 100,000 barrels a year, making it not only Manchester’s largest brewery but one of the largest in the North of England, with over 100 tied houses. By 1883 Henry Boddington & Co. was a limited liability company. Henry Boddington’s estate was valued at almost £150,000 when he died in 1886.
And here’s a longer history of the Boddington’s brewery, by Barry McQueen, town crier of Blackpool:
Encouraged by the growth of industrial Manchester, Thomas Caister and Thomas Fray established Strangeways brewery in 1778 on a site just past New Bridge Street to the north of the River Irk.
In 1813, Henry Boddington was born. At the age of 19, he became a traveller for the brewery, and was further promoted within the company, until he was made a partner by John Harrison, the then owner in 1847.
In 1853 Henry became the sole owner of Strangeways brewery, boosting production to 16,731 barrels a year. By 1872 the brewery produced 50,000 barrels a year, a figure which had doubled by 1877.
In 1877, a serious fire badly damaged the Strangeways brewery, which by this time had become the largest beer producer in Manchester. Henry Boddington introduced his son (also called Henry) to the management and thus Henry Boddington & Sons was born.
Following the death of Henry Boddington Snr. in 1886, the company become public limited with the name ‘Boddingtons Breweries Ltd.’, and in 1900 introduced the famous two bees and a barrel logo which is still used today. The logo was adopted from Manchester’s coats of arms with the two bees representing the two B’s of Boddingtons Breweries.
In 1908 Robert Slater Boddington became chairman, before his death in 1930 passed ownership to his sons, Geoffrey and Philip.
World War I followed, and on the night of December 22, 1940, German bombs destroyed Strangeways brewery, prompting the brothers to rebuild it bigger and better than ever.
After Philip’s death in 1952, Geoffrey continued as chairman of Boddingtons Breweries until his retirement in 1970 when he is replaced by Ewart Boddington. After his retirement in 1980, Erwant is replaced by Denis Cassidy, the first time the brewery had not been ran by a member of the Boddingtons family since 1853.
In October 1989 the brewing interests of Boddingtons were sold to Whitbread for £50.7 million, although the pub division was kept by the Boddington group. The move took Boddingtons from being a household name in Manchester with a production of 200,000 barrels a year and turned it into a Worldwide favourite with production in excess of 750,000 barrels, all at its Manchester Strangeways brewery!
In 1994, Boddingtons were the first brewers to introduce canned beer with a Draughtflow dispense system, which prompted the launch of Boddingtons Export in 1995 and Boddingtons Manchester Gold in 1996.
Sales of Boddies are at an all time high, so much so that over 90% of Strangeways’ production is now spent brewing the ale. As a result, Whitbread transferred brewing of Oldham Best bitter to its Burtonwood brewery in Warrington.
Today is the birthday of Edward Younger (November 21, 1906-June 25, 1997). He was the great-great-great-great-grandson of George Younger, who founded the George Younger and Son brewery.
This account is from his Wikipedia page:
Lord Younger of Leckie came from a Scottish family which had been making money from brewing since the 18th century, and which entered the aristocracy in the early years of the 20th century. His great-great-great-great-grandfather, George Younger (baptised 1722), was the founder of the family’s brewing business, George Younger and Son. This George Younger’s great-great-grandson, also named George Younger (1851-;1929), entered politics, and was created Viscount Younger of Leckie in 1923. This peerage has passed in an unbroken line from father to son ever since.
Today is the birthday of Charles Buxton (November 18, 1823-August 10, 1871). He “was an English brewer, philanthropist, writer and member of Parliament. Buxton was born in Cobham, Surrey, the third son of Sir Thomas Buxton, 1st Baronet, a notable brewer, MP and social reformer, and followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a partner in the brewery of Truman, Hanbury, Buxton, & Co in Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London, and then an MP. He served as Liberal MP for Newport, Isle of Wight (1857–1859), Maidstone (1859–1865) and East Surrey (1865–1871). His son Sydney Buxton was also an MP and governor of South Africa.”
This is the image that comes up for Charles Buxton when you do a Google search, but I can’t confirm that it’s the same person.
The brewery on Brick Lane in London.
The original brewery was probably established by the Bucknall family, who leased the site in the seventeenth century. The site’s first associations with brewing can be traced back to 1666 when a Joseph Truman is recorded as joining William Bucknall’s Brewhouse in Brick Lane. Part of the site was located on Black Eagle Street, hence the brewery’s name. Truman appears to have acquired the lease of the brewery in 1679, upon the death of William Bucknell. Through the Truman family’s efforts – not least those of Sir Benjamin Truman (who joined the firm in 1722) – the business expanded rapidly over the following 200 years. By 1748 the Black Eagle Brewery was the third largest brewery in London, and likely the world, with 40,000 barrels produced annually.
In the mid-18th century Huguenot immigrants introduced a new beverage flavoured with hops, which proved very popular. Initially, Truman’s imported hops from Belgium, but Kent farmers were soon encouraged to grow hops to help the brewery meet growing demand.
Sir Benjamin died in March 1780 and, without a son to take on the business, it passed to his grandsons. In 1789, the brewery was taken over by Sampson Hanbury (Hanbury had been a partner since 1780; the Truman family became ‘sleeping partners’). Hanbury’s nephew, Thomas Fowell Buxton, joined the company in 1808, improved the brewing process, converted the works to steam power and, with the rapid expansion and improvement of Britain’s road and rail transport networks, the Black Eagle label soon became famous across Britain (by 1835, when Buxton took over the business upon Hanbury’s death, the brewery was producing some 200,000 barrels (32,000 m3) of porter a year).
The Brick Lane brewery – now known as Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co – took on new partners in 1816, the Pryor brothers (the company’s owners were renowned for their good treatment of their workers – providing free schooling – and for their support of abolitionism). By 1853 the brewery was the largest in the world, producing 400,000 barrels of beer each year, with a site covering six acres.
However, the company also faced competition from breweries based outside London – notably in Burton upon Trent, where the water was particularly suitable for brewing – and in 1873 the company acquired a brewery (Phillips) in Burton and began to build a major new brewery, named the Black Eagle after the original London site.
In 1888, Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co became a public company with shareholders, but the balance of production was now shifting to Burton. The Brick Lane facility remained active through a take-over by the Grand Metropolitan Group in 1971 and a merger with Watney Mann in 1972, but it was in terminal decline. It eventually closed in 1989.
Glenn Payne wrote the Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. entry for the Oxford Companion to Beer:
Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. was a venerable British brewery that operated for more than 3 centuries before it closed its doors in 1988. The original brewery was built on Lolsworth Field, Spitalhope, London, by Thomas Bucknall in 1669. He was soon joined by Joseph Truman, who became brewery manager in 1694. Joseph Truman brought Joseph Truman Jr into the company in 1716 and his executor, Sir Benjamin Truman, who took ownership of the business in 1722. Two years later a new brewery, The Black Eagle, was built on nearby Brick Lane, which grew to become Britain’s second largest brewery, employing some 1,000 people. Sir Benjamin died in 1780 without a direct male heir and left the brewery to his grandsons. In the same year, Sampson Hanbury became a partner and took over control in 1789. His nephew, Thomas Fowler Buxton, joined in 1808. He improved the brewing process by adopting innovations in brewing technology brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Outside his activities in the brewery, Buxton was a renowned philanthropist, and he was elected a member of Parliament in 1818. He was associated with William Wilberforce, a leader in the fight to end the British slave trade. By the time of his death in 1845, the brewery produced about 305,000 hl of porter annually. The brewery is even mentioned in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield (1850). Seizing upon the growing influence of Burton as a brewing center in the 19th century, the company acquired the Phillips brewery there in 1887 and 2 years later became a public company. But its fortunes declined with the shift in popular taste away from porter toward pale ale near the end of the 19th century. In 1971, the brewery was acquired by the Grand Metropolitan Group, which, in turn, was merged into Watney Mann 1 year later. Thomas, Hanbury, and Buxton ceased production in 1988 but its brewery still stands on its site in Brick Lane, London, where it has been redeveloped into a complex of residential housing, offices, restaurants, galleries, and shops.
They also later built a Black Eagle Brewery in Burton. As you’d expect, Martyn Cornell has an amazingly thorough account of Trumans, which he refers to as When Brick Lane was home to the biggest brewery in the world.
Today is the birthday of Michael Arthur Bass (November 12, 1837–February 1, 1909). He was the oldest “son of Michael Thomas Bass and the great-grandson of William Bass, the founder of the brewery firm of Bass & Co in Burton,” England.
This account of his life is from the 1912 Supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography, by Charles Welch:
BASS, Sir MICHAEL ARTHUR, first Baron Burton (1837–1909), brewer and benefactor, born in Burton-on-Trent on 12 Nov. 1837, was elder son of Michael Thomas Bass, brewer [q. v.], by his wife Eliza Jane, daughter of Major Samuel Arden of Longcroft Hall, Staffordshire. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, he graduated B.A. in 1859, M.A. in 1863. Bass on leaving the university at once entered his father’s brewing business, and was soon well versed in all branches of the industry. By his energy he did much to extend its operations, became head of the firm on the death of his father in 1884, and to the end of his life never relaxed his interest in the active management. The firm, which was reconstructed in 1888 under the style of Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton, Ltd., has buildings covering over 160 acres of land, employs over 3000 men, pays over 300,000l. a year in duty, and has a revenue of over 5,000,000l. per annum.
Bass entered parliament in 1865 as liberal member for Stafford, represented East Staffordshire 1868-85, and the Burton division of Staffordshire 1885-6. He proved a popular member of the house, and was a personal friend of Gladstone. His father having refused both a baronetcy and a peerage, Bass was made a baronet in vita patris in 1882, with remainder to his brother, Hamar Alfred Bass, and his heirs male; Hamar Bass died in 1898, leaving his son, William Arthur Hamar Bass, heir to the baronetcy. Bass was opposed to Gladstone’s home rule policy in 1886, but on other great questions he remained for the time a consistent liberal, and presided on 9 March 1887 when Francis Schnadhorst, the liberal party organiser, was presented with a testimonial of 10,000 guineas. He was raised to the peerage on Gladstone’s recommendation on 13 Aug. 1886 as Baron Burton of Rangemore and Burton-on-Trent, both in co. Stafford.
The growing hostility of the liberal party to the brewing interest as shown in their licensing policy and the widening of the breach on the Irish question led Burton to a final secession from the liberals, and he became a liberal unionist under Lord Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain. After 1903 he warmly supported the latter’s policy of tariff reform, and he led the opposition to Mr. Asquith’s licensing bill in 1908, which was rejected by the House of Lords.
Always genial, outspoken, and good-humoured, Burton was a personal friend of King Edward VII, both before and after his accession. The king frequently visited him at his London house, Chesterfield House, Mayfair, at his Scottish seat, Glen Quoich, and at Rangemore, his stately home on the borders of Needwood Forest, near Burton. The king conferred upon him the decoration of K.C.V.O. when he visited Balmoral in 1904.
He was a deputy-lieutenant and a J.P. for Staffordshire, and a director of the South Eastern Railway Company. An excellent shot, he was long in command of the 2nd volunteer battalion of the North Staffordshire regiment, retiring in August 1881 with the rank of hon. colonel. He built and presented to the regiment the spacious drill-hall at Burton, and gave for competition at Bisley the Bass charity vase and a cup for ambulance work. Burton’s gifts and benefactions to the town of Burton were, like those of his father, munificent; together they presented the town hall, which cost over 65,000l. He gave club buildings to both the liberal and the conservative parties in succession; he constructed, at a cost of about 20,000l., the ferry bridge which spans the valley at the south end of Burton, and afterwards freed the bridge from toll at a cost of 12,950l. and added an approach to it over the marshy ground known as the Fleet Green Viaduct in 1890. As an acknowledgment he accepted a piece of silver plate, but he declined the proposed erection of a public statue. As a loyal churchman he generously contributed towards all diocesan funds, but will chiefly be remembered as a builder of churches. St. Paul’s Church at Burton, built by him and his father, is a miniature cathedral; its cost in first outlay was 120,000l., a sum of 40,000l. was provided for its endowment, and large sums in addition for improvements and embellishments. Another fine church, St. Margaret’s, Burton, was also built by father and son, and they erected St. Paul’s Church Institute at a cost of over 30,000l.
Burton had a cultivated taste as an art collector, and Chesterfield House, his residence in Mayfair, which he bought of Mr. Magniac, was furnished in the style of the eighteenth century and contained a choice collection of pictures by English artists of that period, which became widely known owing to his generosity in lending them to public exhibitions; Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Romney were represented both numerously and by masterpieces. His more modern pictures were at Rangemore, and included some of the best works of Stanfield, Creswick, and their contemporaries.
Burton died after an operation on 1 Feb. 1909, and was buried at Rangemore church. He married on 28 Oct. 1869 Harriet Georgiana, daughter of Edward Thornewill of Dove Cliff, Staffordshire, by whom he had issue an only child, Nellie Lisa, born on 27 Dec. 1873, who married in 1894 James Evan Bruce Baillie, formerly M.P. for Inverness-shire. In default of male issue, the peerage, by a second patent of 29 Nov. 1897, descended to his daughter.
By his will he strictly entailed the bulk of his property to his wife for life, then to his daughter, then to her descendants. The gross value exceeded 1,000,000l. He requested that every person and the husband of every person in the entail should assume the surname and arms of Bass, and reside at Rangemore for at least four months in every year.
From Vanity Fair, November 1908.
Here’s his obituary: